Sunday, February 11, 2018

And every day, said a little prayer, thanking God that I was independent

Today's recipe post is inspired by all of the really cold weather we've been having (even here in Florida!) and by my new roommate's favorite musical: rum toddy.

I have a new roommate who just moved in during the holidays. In typical me fashion, I figured a good getting-to-know-you type activity would be to watch musicals. Don't worry, I decided on this after learning she actually likes musicals. So, I grabbed a handful of options and brought them downstairs. And she gasped, gasped I tell you, when she saw that I had Hello Dolly! Obviously, we had to watch that.

Bonus! Bert May sighting! He's on the left-hand side of the picture, second from the bottom.

When I was a kid, I mostly ignored Dolly's monologues to her late husband, Ephraim Levi. I memorized them, for the most part, like I did the rest of the movie. But, I didn't understand them until I started to get older. And even then, they didn't interest me as much as the obvious hilarity of the scenes with Barnaby and Cornelius. So, when I watched the movie with my roommate, I started noticing things that I hadn't really noticed before. Don't you love that about rematching movies?

"I've put out the cat, made myself a rum toddy, and every night said a little prayer, thanking God that I was independent."

This line possibly stood out to me, in particular, because I had recently come from a family reunion. My family reunion at the beginning of the month was amazing. It was, however, filled with the last cold wave and a lot of people got sick. Both of these factors impeded some of the usual Garcia Family Reunion activities. At one point, my Uncle Dan (one of those who was fighting a cold), turned to me and said, "you know what would be good right now? A hot toddy." Me, being me, immediately went on pinterest and pulled up a handy dandy infographic that I knew I had pinned of how to make a hot toddy. (Click on the picture to go to the source)

My cousins, James and Maria, had stocked the kitchen full of a nice selection of liquor. And my family, being who they are, had a ton of fresh produce, ready to use. So, we made a big batch of hot toddies using fresh ginger (this was steeped in the hot water for several minutes before adding other ingredients), honey (also added shortly after the ginger to allow it to dissolve into the hot water), lemon slices, and rye. I'll be honest, it was not my favorite. But that's also because I don't like whiskey.

The next day, we made another batch of the same thing but with brandy (because we had kind of used up all the rye) and we added turmeric. Okay, I'll admit. We added turmeric because I didn't know the difference between fresh turmeric and fresh ginger and both were on a plate together and, to be honest, they look very similar if you don't know the difference. So, I grabbed what I thought was ginger and put it in my Uncle Dan's mug. And it wasn't until my Uncle Jose asked me to make him one and explain what I was putting in it, that the topic came up. He pointed out the differences to me, I learned something, and then everyone wanted turmeric and ginger in their hot toddies. Go figure.

Since I didn't like the first batch of hot toddies, I didn't get a chance to drink the second batch, and I needed something to post about this month, so I made a rum toddy, inspired by my Uncle Dan and Hello Dolly! 

There is supposed to be a picture here of my rum toddy. Sadly, I didn't take one. To be honest, I still don't know what I think of toddies. They're hot lemon water. With some alcohol thrown in. I found it strange. What are your thoughts on toddies?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

She will amuse you for months

Last night, my roommate and I went to go see Gigi because it was playing in select theaters. I went, even though I find that movie problematic, because it is a beautiful film and I thought it would be worth seeing on the big screen. Besides, I have a horrible habit of fast-forwarding through movies so I don't know that I had ever actually seen Gigi from start to finish.

I wrote a post years ago about the problems I have with the movie. One person commented that it was her favorite and I felt awful and deleted the post. I kind of regret that now. If I were talking to a person and they said, "My favorite movie in the whole world is Gigi," I wouldn't launch into a tirade about how problematic it is. I would say, "oh, yes. She's such a great character!" or "oh, Louis Jourdan is so dreamy!" Both of these would be true and it would be a polite response. So, if you do love that movie and feel sad reading criticisms of it, it will not hurt my feelings if you close the post and read something else.

That said, here is my opinion of Gigi. The acting is brilliant. The songs are fantastic. The sets are beautiful. The costumes are gorgeous. I want Gigi's hair. Louis Jourdan is dreamy. Gigi is a truly magnificent character. The all around art direction is incredible.

It is my opinion that the storyline is quite terrible and indicative of a truly awful trend in Hollywood in particular and our society as a whole. Now, when I rewatched the movie yesterday, I did notice that the movie is pretty self-aware in some respects; it knows that it's dealing with a tricky plot. Be that as it may, it's still about a very young girl (about 16 or 17) who is courted by a much older man (about 30). I say the word "courted" because that's how the guy introducing the movie put it. To be fair, I do need to read the novella the movie is based on. However, it's very much about the sexualization of a girl and her purpose as a source of entertainment for a man.

The very first song of the movie, "Thank heaven for little girls," is, I think, meant to be cute and charming. But, to me, it comes across as seeing the sexual potential in little girls and knowing that they'll please men someday. I hate it. Gaston's frequent complaints about being bored culminate in the title song when he discovers that he was never once bored when he was with Gigi. Thank god she'll be able to entertain him. Now, the line his uncle says in Maxim's, "she will amuse you for months" is a nice ending to that character development. I like to see that moment when Gaston clears out with Gigi as his realization that this is how he has been viewing her too and he is disgusted by his own behavior. It might actually be that he's disgusted by his uncle's opinion. I'm not sure. But I'll see it in the former perspective because he needs some redeeming qualities. As we were walking out of the theater, my roommate pointed out that it bothered him how elegant and refined she was as a wife - she had lost all of her energy and personality after marriage. I had never noticed that before but it bothers me now too!

I could go into more details about my frustrations with the movie. I really do have many. But, the reason I dislike it so much is that our society continues to sexualize girls. We continue to see them as playthings, as objects. They hit puberty and bam! They're eligible for harassment of every variety. In a musical comedy, it's seen as ok, because it's in France and in the 1800s. But it's still about a man seeing a girl grow up to be a very young woman and instantly try to make it work to his benefit.

I will say that the main thing that makes this movie work at all for me is Gigi, herself. She really is probably one of my favorite characters in a movie. The more I watch the movie, the more I like her. She's smart, she's completely comfortable with herself, she's confident in her ability to make good decisions, she's brave, she's honest. I love that she is aware of what she's being tailored to become. I love that she tells Gaston that he has terrible taste in clothes when he starts criticizing her new dress and refuses to apologize when told to do so. I love that she turns Gaston down when he asks her to be his mistress because she knows she could never be happy. I love that she's smart enough to look beyond the allure of a nice house, servants, a car, jewels, clothes, travel - to realize that it will end eventually and then she'll be shuffled off to someone else to do it all again. I love how angry she gets when he tells her he's in love with her because she has a much better understanding of what love is than he does. I love that when she finally decides to agree to his offer after all, she does it flawlessly. I think she's such an incredible character and Leslie Caron performs her role perfectly.

I feel as though being a classic film lover in a modern world can be challenging. Not only for the oft-lamented, "they just don't make them like they used to" and trying to reference movies that no one has seen - but also because we love movies made in a time of different values and different standards. I struggle with the fact that I love Errol Flynn movies but know that Errol Flynn was not a particularly good person. I struggle with the fact that Gigi holds the record for the most Academy Awards given to a musical and is a romance about a girl marrying a man twice her age. I struggle with the fact that Fred Astaire's romantic partners were cast progressively younger the older he got (see also: Cary Grant). That's not to say these aren't problems in today's movies. But, today, there are articles written about it. People boycott the movies. And there is, at least, an awareness. I feel as though the movie industry is (very, very slowly) adapting to society's evolving expectations. But, movies from the past cannot be adapted. And I can't throw them aside even though I know better.

 I told a friend this once and she suggested donating or volunteering to a good cause if I feel guilty about watching Errol Flynn movies. So, in light of that very good suggestion, here are some good causes to donate to if you would like to help young girls become more than sexualized, objectified tools in a man's world:

Girls Not Brides - working to end child brides

60 Million Girls - working to educate girls around the world

The Girl Effect - working to help girls grow through creativity and expression

Friday, January 19, 2018

Next thing I know, I'm a councilman

So, I think I've done a fairly good job of keeping politics out of my blog. I don't know if that will continue - mostly because I don't know if I need to keep politics out of my blog. I have some ideas of things I want to discuss and how they relate to classic movies and the movie industry in general. I'm letting these ideas stew a bit before I put them on the blogosphere.

Anyway, this is a big year in politics: midterm elections! Last year around this time, I started thinking about running for office. It's something I still think about, although I don't know if I'd be cut out for fundraising and campaigning. Maybe someday. This year, I'm planning to volunteer with a campaign and see what that's like. There are a lot of up-and-comers running this year. It's pretty exciting. Last year, I kept feeling so powerless and wanting to do something. I'm glad other people felt the same and have acted on those feelings.

When I was doing my preliminary research about running for office, I kept thinking of Dave (1993). Do you all remember that one? I love that movie. I realize a movie from the '90s may not constitute as classic but it's a fantastic movie so I'm going to base my spotlight on a scene post on it. There's this wonderful scene between the main character, Dave (played by Kevin Kline), and the Vice President (Ben Kingsley) where Dave asks the Vice President how he got started in politics. What follows is a scene that probably could have been bland but Ben Kingsley's performance of it has stuck with me since I was a teenager.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Coals to Newcastle

So, late last year, I started listening to podcasts. It took me a while to get on that bandwagon. Partly because there were so many options, I was a little overwhelmed. Partly because I wasn't sure I was interested in any of the options people were recommending to me. And partly because I was convinced I wouldn't be able to concentrate at work when I had to also focus on what I was listening to.

It turns out, I love podcasts. And sometimes my work is too involved to listen to them - but sometimes I'm doing stuff like data entry. And pods are perfect for that kind of thing.


Anyway, my entry into podcasts were the Crooked Media company podcasts (Pod Save America, Lovett or Leave It, Pod Save the World, Pod Save the People, and With Friends Like These). They have since expanded since I started listening to them (yay!) but I've started wanting a little more variety in what I'm listening to. So, my brother and sister-in-law recommended a bundle of podcasts. I've tried some, but not all, of the ones that sounded interesting.

One of my favorites of these recommendations was Lexicon Valley by Slate. It's so cool. They talk about words and expressions, the etymology and history of these words and phrases. It is so, so cool. And one of my favorite things about this podcast is that they often use classic movies to cite usage (for instance, see how Cary Grant uses this expression in The Awful Truth - it was a really popular expression of the time). Anyway, listening to the podcast inspired me to write a brief blog post on expressions that I've heard. I'm going to just write about one and save the other for a rainy day (or busy week). This might be a recurring series that I include. It might be a one or two time deal. We'll see how it goes!


So, last night, I watched The Philadelphia Story with two of my roommates. One of them had seen it and loved it a few years ago and so we were introducing the film to our newest roommate. I love The Philadelphia Story for many reasons, not the least of which is the excellent script. And I've learned some things from the script.

Today, we're going to talk about "coals to Newcastle." In the movie, when Jimmy Stewart's "Mike" Macaulay Connor goes to Cary Grant's C.K. Dexter Haven's house, armed with a bottle of champagne and a pretty hefty head start in the drinking department. Mike hands Dexter the bottle of champagne. Dexter places the champagne on the table. Mike looks at the table and says, "Oh! I wonder if I might have a drink." And then Dexter responds with, "Certainly. Coals to Newcastle."


This is an expression that baffled me for years. And it wasn't until I was an adult and looked it up that it finally made sense and I finally got the joke. Newcastle was a major exporter of coal so the original expression of "carrying coals to Newcastle" indicated a pointless action. Similar to "selling ice to eskimos." Dexter's line took on actual meaning when I finally understood what he was talking about.


What words or expressions have you learned from watching classic movies?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

All right, I'll remember: must scold, must nag, mustn't be too pretty in the morning.

Hello! How was everyone's first week of 2018?

Mine was pretty crazy. I went to a family reunion on my mom's side; there were about 30 people there. There was tons of food and great conversation. I left my laptop at home so I could make the most of my opportunity to talk to relatives, some of whom I hadn't seen in 10 years. So, I know you'll forgive me for taking time off blogging.

That being said, I'd like to make this post sort of NYE themed, even if it is a little late for that. The fact is, I love New Year's. I love making resolutions and having some quiet time of reflection and introspection. I love the idea of new starts. I love keeping track of my goals so I can look back at them later and see what I've accomplished. The great thing about this style of resolution-keeping is that I'm not super stressed about keeping resolutions for one year. Some resolutions take years to take hold. Some never do. And that's ok. In my opinion, one of the best parts of life is expanding, growing, and learning. If I resolve to sew one piece a month, it doesn't really matter if I completely make that. If I do, that's awesome! If I only make one, then that's one piece I didn't have. I've made so many sewing resolutions over the years. Last year was the first year where I moved past my fear of sewing and actually made things. Am I still afraid of sewing? Absolutely. But, I'm still excited about all of the possibilities of what I can do and I'm so excited that I spent both of my Amazon gift cards that I got for Christmas on sewing supplies!

I've decided to write this post on some blog-related and classic movie-related resolutions.

1. Consistently blog. I'd really like to develop this as a habit, even if I don't write posts of the same length and depth and even if I don't cover all of the topics that I'd like.

And on that topic...

2. Stop apologizing. I can't even count the number of times I've started a blog post with an apology. It's a defense mechanism. A gut reaction. Half the time, I'm not so much apologizing to my readers as I am to myself. But I need to be more forgiving and accepting of the fact that my life is busy and sometimes posting will fall by the wayside. And that's okay!


3. Continue watching new movies. I feel as though I've been pretty good about this the past few years but I'd particularly like to watch more old movies I've never seen before. I don't have any specific titles in mind but if I think of any, I'll let you know. I'd like to set a goal for one a month or something but, to be honest, they can be difficult to acquire.


4. Watch the movies I own. I own over 300 movies. And, I'd like to add, they're all legally acquired. Have I seen them all? Absolutely not. But, I'd like to. I think I'd like to try one of those a month to see how long it takes me to get through them. These include (but are not limited to)

  • 3 Sailors and a Girl
  • The Goodbye Girl
  • Holiday in Mexico
  • Orphans of the Storm
  • Beach Party
  • The Toast of New Orleans
  • That Midnight Kiss
  • Lady on a Train
  • Can't Help Singing
  • Made For Each Other
  • Behave Yourself
  • The Lady Says No
  • Double Dynamite
  • Higher and Higher
  • Day-Time Wife
  • I'll Never Forget You
  • Cafe Metropole
  • The Misfits
  • Bus Stop
  • Dinner at Eight
  • Horse Feathers
Okay, looking at this list, I'm pretty sure I could watch two a month - particularly since there are titles I didn't even list!

5. Complete about 12 outfits that are inspired by movies/stars. This includes  sewing outfits and also putting them together from pieces I already own. As happened last year, some of the inspirations will be a little loose, but that's why they're inspirations and not recreations. I'm also going to expand the criteria to include some newer movies. I made a robe inspired by Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day recently and there's a dress in The Princess Diaries 2 that I've had my eye on for ages.

6. Get back into embroidery. Christmas of 2016 I decided to craft all of my gifts. It was an ambitious undertaking. I did it, but I was pretty burned out by the end. And when Galentines Day rolled around last February, I spent an entire day embroidering gifts for my friends. After that, I barely made anything until December. I'd like to get back into it and continue working on a project I've long wanted to complete: embroider pieces inspired by classic movie scenes.

7. Make more coasters. I really love my classic movie coasters. I'd like to make more, perfect the process, and start a collection. Who knows? Maybe eventually I can start a shop.

8. Start a vlog. This is an idea I've only recently started considering. I think I'd like to start a classic movie vlog that ties in to this blog. The thing is, I want it to be fun and not a drudgery. And I can't switch from this format to that format because some things either wouldn't work as well because I'd have to do them live as opposed to taking pictures - sewing, cooking, crafting, baking - and I'm no where near confident in my abilities to do that. But I think video would be a better venue for talking about movies that I like and discussing scenes that I like. I feel like I can better articulate my excitement for things and better indicate tone. But I'm not entirely sure if I'm sold on this. I'd definitely love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I'll be in bed at midnight so Happy New Year!



I'm not going to apologize this time for taking a blogging break. Last week was an emotionally rough week, and this week was Christmas. Next week I'll be at a family reunion, so I won't be blogging again until later in January.

However, I did want to wish everyone a happy new year! I hope 2018 is full of joy, hope, growth, and the best kind of change!


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Well, you must admit I've got pretty good taste

The Thin Man (1934) is one of my favorite Christmas movies. I feel as though it's in the category of Die Hard where you have to argue that it is, in fact, in the Christmas category. But the Christmas morning scene is one of my favorites in the whole movie. It's so funny. And I inevitably think of it every Christmas:

What are some of your favorite unorthodox Christmas movies?